Speller, Heather Korkosz. “Mental Health Literacy”, Boston College, 2005. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/364.
Underutilization of mental health services among Asian Americans is a pressing concern. It is possible that knowledge and beliefs about mental illness (a.k.a. “mental health literacy”) serve as barriers to seeking appropriate help, and that Asian cultural values plays a role in determining such attitudes. This study investigated the relationships among mental health literacy, attitudes towards mental health services, and adherence to Asian cultural values. A sample of 17 Caucasian and 22 Asian American college students completed a questionnaire including the Asian Values Scale, the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale – Shortened Version, and four vignettes portraying depression, schizophrenia, alcohol dependency, and anorexia. Results indicated that Caucasians were slightly more likely to correctly recognize and identify mental illnesses than were Asian Americans. Causal attributions varied greatly across different mental disorders, and Asian Americans showed less positive attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help, and preferred to solve problems on their own or seek help from family or friends. The greatest barriers to treatment for Asian Americans were a fear of showing personal weakness and concern about stigma. Adherence to Asian cultural values was inversely associated with willingness to seek professional help, and with willingness to take medication for psychological problems.